Intro to international relations

  • Category:
    Performing Arts
  • Document type:
  • Level:
    High School
  • Page:
  • Words:


International Relations

International Relations

Week 2: Theories of International Relations: Liberalism

1-Write a short paragraph addressing the question: What does Fukuyma’s response reveal about the context in which it was written?

Fukuyma’s response is a depiction of conservative thinking. For instance, his proclamation of the end to history simply disqualifies politics as a conservative force in the world. This is because the end of history would mean an end to the world politics. This is attributed to the fact that when history comes to an end, there would be nothing to politic about (Fukuyama, 2006).

Week 3: Theories of International Relations: Realism

2-Write a paragraph describing a current international issue from a realist perspective

Realism ism is one of the theories that are used in the study of international relations issues. In fact, realist theory is regarded as the most accurate tool for understanding international relations events. Realism approaches international relations through explanatorily instead of normatively (Guilhot, 2011). The theory is based on the assumption that human being is obdurately selfish and therefore the concerns of individuals are always the same. The theory also maintains that nations are often driven by the need to gain power over others. Realist theory can be used in understanding a number of current international events. The intervention by Russia to the ongoing Syrian Civil War is an example of an ongoing international issue that can be understood through realist perspective. The Syrian civil war has been going on since the recent Arab Spring. The war has been going on between President Al-asssad forces and allies on one side and the extremist Islamic, including ISIS on the other hand. The war has since resulted in the death of more than 200,000, which accounts for 1% of the Syrian population (Sanger, 2016). Hundreds or thousands Syrian civilians have also been displaced and have become refuges within Syrian and in neighbouring countries. The involvement of Russian in the war has been an issue of interest to many scholars. However, according to realists, Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has been prompted by Russia’s need to become dominant in the region (Barkin, 2010). Realist theory maintains that Russia’s involvement in the ongoing civil war is not motivated by the need to bring the conflict to an end; rather because it is interested in demonstrating its military capabilities and need to become an influential country in the region’s political affairs.

Week 4: Theories of International Relations: Marxism

3-Pull a news article and discuss the impact of Marxist thought in the 21st Century (please attach the article to your exercises).

Elliott, L. (2011, Aug. 7). Global financial crisis: five key stages 2007-2011. The Guardian p.1

Karl Marx is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever produced. His thoughts have remained relevant to date. Marxism is particularly relevant in the 21stcentury as his thoughts can be used in understanding international issues. The recent economic crisis is a good example of the 21st century issues that Marxist thoughts are quite relevant. The global economic crisis began in mid 2007 in the U.S. and spread fast to the rest of the world. The economic crisis resulted in the collapse of a number of financial institutions, such as the Lehman Brothers and hosts others that experienced serious liquidity problems and had to be bailed out, among them being AIG (Elliott, 2011). The occurrence of the global financial crisis acted as a vindication to Marxist theory that was strongly criticised by proponents of capitalism. Marxists predicted that the capitalism that America promoted posed a serious danger to the world. Marx attributed his fears to the fact that capitalism encouraged overproduction, class inequality, declining profit levels and speculative bubbles (Smith, 2009). Accordingly, this article shows that Marxists have been vindicated despite the criticisms they faced from those in support of capitalism as the article indicate clearly that capitalism was to blame for the 2007/2008 crisis that began in the U.S. following the credit crunch that was triggered by the dangerous principles of capitalism.

Week 5: Security and War

4-Describe the Iraq War from the perspective of the three major theories we have studied so far in this course: Liberalism, Realism and Marxism (3 short paragraphs).

Liberalism, Realism and Marxism are some of the theories used in international relations in understanding conflict in the international context. Realism is an international relations theory that explains conflict by focusing on the motives related to security, resources and power (Donnelly, 2000). Liberalism, on the other hand, explains conflicts by focusing on the differences between non-democracies and democracies, which the theory considers to be a main cause of war (Van de Haar, 2009). Iraq War has been one of the wars that have been fought in the recent times. Different authors and political analysts have criticised the U.S. for going to war with Iraq while some have supported the decision of going to war with Iraq.

However, because realists explain conflicts by focusing on the motives related to security, power and resources, the theory would maintain that the first main motive for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to eliminate weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was believed to have been developing that could pose a threat to the United States and its allies (Donnelly, 2000). Secondly, realists would maintain that the U.S. invaded Iraq with the motive of gaining military bases in the region and pressurizing Iraq’s other neighbouring countries, such as Iran and Syria to abandon any plan to enrich WMD. Besides, the U.S. invaded Iraq with the aim of helping Israel, which has been its historical ally. Additionally, according to realists, the U.S. might have gone to war with Iraq with the aim of securing the America’s oil supplies and to minimize energy vulnerability. Besides, realists see the U.S. inspections in Iraq as undependable and that putting sanction on countries is a cause for resentment.

As explained earlier, liberalism looks at how democracy and lack of it causes conflicts. According to liberalists, democracies are often afraid that they would be the first ones to be attacked by non-democracies (Van de Haar, 2009). In the case of Iraq War, liberalists would argue that, because the U.S. was a democracy, it was fearful that, if it fails to act swiftly, then it would be attacked by Iraq. Therefore, to prevent such a situation, it became necessary for the U.S. to attack Iraq so that it can rid Saddam off WMD. Additionally, liberalism maintains that security is gotten from spreading human rights and democracies in the world. Therefore, according to the liberals, The U.S. invasion of Iraq could be justified because the U.S. intended to protect itself and promote security by toppling Saddam and replacing him with a democratic regime. Maxism theory, however, holds that external wars are fuelled by the desire to control markets and to protect class dominance through socioeconomic pressure deflection (Barkin, 2010). Therefore, with regards to the Iraq War, Marxists will maintain that the U.S. invaded Iraq with the aim of controlling market in the region. In particular, Marxists would hold that the U.S. interest in Iraq oil reserves could have been a motivating factor for going to war. Additionally, Marxists would consider the move by the U.S. to invade Iraq as something that was motivated by the U.S. desire to protect is dominance as the world’s superpower.

Week 6: The World Bank, the IMF and the G20 —

5-What is the Washington Consensus?

The Washington Consensus is a popular term in international trade and development. The term was first coined in the 1990s and refers to free market economic ideas promoted by international organizations and countries, such as the World Bank, IMF, the US and the European Union. The Washington Consensus promotes the establishment of free trade, free markets, floating exchange and macroeconomic stability (Naim, 1999).

6-How successful has the ICC been as a liberal institution of global justice? 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a Hague-based court that deals with serious crimes against humanity. The court was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute to act as the court of last resort for cases involving crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crime. As of mid 2015, the ICC had 123 members’ states. However, the success of the ICC has been under intense scrutiny in the recent times (Sander, 2015).

Critical analysis of the ICC shows that the court has had its successes and failures as n institution of global justice. The first main success of the ICC is seen in the fact that despite the court having been in place barely 13 years since its establishment, it has managed to institute investigations in eight countries for different war crimes, such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Besides launching investigations in eight countries, the ICC court has managed to indict more than 32 people for war crimes. Just recently, the Hague-based court sentenced the former Liberian President Charles Tailor to 50 years imprisonment and has many other cases on the list awaiting prosecution.

Despite the successes in indicting people for war crimes, the ICC has also failed in a number of areas. In fact, the ICC has in the recent times been under attack for failure reasons. Firstly, the ICC is been seen as a big failure because of its focus on Africa while ignoring crimes committed by leaders of powerful nations. Since the ICC was established in 2002, more than 90% of the indictments in the Hague-based courts have been Africans (Sander, 2015). As such, African leaders see the court as being bent at pursuing only the African leaders while ignoring war crimes committed by powerful nations. For instance, African leaders have often cited the crimes committed by powerful nations, such as Israel against innocent Palestinian civilians but the ICC has not done anything about the issue or pursued the Israel leaders. As such, the majority of African countries are considering pulling out en masse from the Rome Statute.

Secondly, the failure of the ICC became apparent just recently after all the inductees in the Kenyan cases collapsed for lack of evidence. In 2010, the ICC launched investigations into the 2007/2008 post-election violence that rocked Kenya (AFP, 2016). The violence resulted in the deaths of more than 1200 people while several others were displaced from where they have always called home. Six Kenyan leaders including the current Kenyan president and his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto respectively were indicted in the Hague-based court. Others included Henry Kosgey, Husain Ali, Joshua Sang and Ambassador Muthaira was also indicted. However, all these leaders who were found to have been involved in inciting and financing people to war have been acquitted for lack of evidence. The collapse of these Kenyan cases has exposed the Hague-based court as an institution that not only lack the capacity to investigate cases and come up with strong evidence to indicate people, but also its inability to deal with powerful leaders in government (AFP, 2016). Besides, the failure of the ICC to arrest the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir indicates the failure of the court to deal with powerful people. This implies that the court can only convict people without strong influence, which is a big failure of the court as it shows leaders that they can get away with crimes without being jailed by the ICC.

Week 9: The World Trade Organisation

7-Write a pro’s and con’s list of the WTO — one for developed nations and one for developing. Then write a paragraph comparing the two positions. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an internationally recognized organization that is responsible for regulating trade among its member states. The organization was founded in 1995 out of a negotiation in Geneva, Switzerland (Narlikar, Daunton and Stern, 2012). The organization sets rule of engagement among member states with regards to trade. Its main objective is to ensure that there is free flow of trade among member states by removing barriers as well as finding markets for member stakes. As at the end of 2015, WTO had 162 member states drawn from different continents (Narlikar, 2005). The WTO has its benefits and shortcomings to both the developed and developing countries.

The chief advantage of WTO to developed nations is seen from the fact that WTO promotes free trade that is of great benefit to the developed nations. This is attributed to the fact that WTO enabled developed nations to easily engage in business with the developing nations, where they get goods and services cheaply (Narlikar, 2005). For instance, the removal of tariffs makes it cheaper for the developed nations to import goods from WTO member states.

Despite the advantages of WTO to the developed nations, being a member of the WTO is also disadvantageous to the developed nations. The main disadvantage of WTO to developed nations is the fact that it makes it easy for developing nations, such as China to market their goods to developed countries and this plays to the disadvantage of developed nations as it kills their domestic industries (Narlikar, Daunton and Stern, 2012). For instance, China, and Taiwan have been blamed on many occasioned for dumping their cheap goods, such as solar panels to the United States and Britain, which plays to the disadvantage of these nation’s domestic industries.

Like developed nations, being a member to the WTO is beneficial to the developing nations in many ways. The first main advantage of WTO to the developed nations is in the fact that the removal of trade barriers and tariffs makes it easier and cheaper for the developing nations to import products (Narlikar, 2005). In this respect, the WTO accords the developing nations the legal rights not to be discriminated against with regards to trade with other nations that are member states to the WTO, which is an advantage to the developing nations.

However, membership to the WTO is disadvantageous to the developing nations in a number of ways. The first greatest disadvantage of developing nations to the WTO is the fact that WTO makes developing nations more dependent on the powerful nations (Narlikar, Daunton and Stern, 2012). This is a disadvantage because it exposes the developing nations to exploitation by the powerful nations, as the least developed nations have to depend on the industrialized nations for investments, trade, technology and loans. Besides, the free trade plays to the disadvantage of the developing nations as it makes it difficult for the developing nations to develop their infant industries.

Week 10: The United Nations and Human Rights

8-Redesign the UN Security Council to make it a more functional and representative body You need to provide a list of up to 10 permanent members and write a short sentence explaining why they are appropriate inclusions and also reassess the defacto veto function and justify why you would change/not change it. 

The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization established in 1945 to promote co-operation internationally. The organization was founded to replace the ineffective League of Nations immediately after the WWII to help improve co-operations between nations so as to prevent the occurrence of conflicts in the future. The UN has 15 members comprising of five permanent member and ten non-permanent members that are elected after every two years by the General Assembly. The current permanent members to the U.N. include China, France, the UK, the U.S. and Russia (Oberprantacher, 2016).

However, personally, the following is a list of ten nations that should become permanent members of the UN namely China, France, the UK, the U.S., Russia, India, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and Nigeria. The inclusion of Brazil and India is necessary because they are not only among the fastest growing economies in the world today, but also because the two nations will be able to promote the interests of nations in their regions, such as Asia for India and South America for Brazil. Germany should also become a permanent member to the UN because of the influence that it has in Europe. Additionally, including South Africa and Nigeria to the permanent membership of the UN is necessary as it would ensure that the interests of African countries are effectively promoted in the organization.

The five permanent members (China, the U.S., the U.K, Russia and France) has the veto powers that enables them to decide on the issues that are considered substantive as well as the powers to prevent the adoption of any substantive resolution (Oberprantacher, 2016). Personally, I am against the defacto veto function of the UN and feels that it is time for this function to be changed. I hold this view because the veto powers of the UN is not just undemocratic, but also because it is the main cause for the inaction on war crimes, genocide and wars against humanity that are going on in the world. For instance, because the US is a defacto member to the UN and is a friend to Israel, it has become very difficult for any substantive resolution against Israel for atrocities against the Palestine civilians to pass through because the UN and its allies that are permanent members to the UN ensures that such matters are not included as ‘substantive’ title (Trent and Rahman, 2007). Besides, the fact that the veto is not subjected to voting makes it vulnerable to abuse by the five permanent members.

Week 11: The Responsibility to Protect Doctrine

9-Design a set of rules for intervention When, why, where, who, how

The Responsibility to protect is a commitment made at the United Nations in 2005World Summit that aims to address human rights violation, such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity (Responsibility to Protect, 2015). The following are the rules that should be used under the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine.

  1. The primary responsibility of protecting people against war crimes, genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity lies with individual states;

  2. The international community will intervene when the state’s request for assistance by the international community or when the individual states fail to protect citizens or are involved in human rights violations.

  3. The international community will begin by pursuing diplomatic means to protecting people from crimes;

  4. The international community will provide all forms of humanitarian assistance to the affected population

  5. The international community will use military force as the last resort where diplomatic means fails.


AFP. (2016). African leaders back push for ICC pull out—here’s how it would play out, if at all. Retrieved from

Barkin, J. S. (2010). Realist constructivism: Rethinking international relations theory. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Donnelly, J. (2000). Realism and international relations. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Elliott, L. (2011, Aug. 7). Global financial crisis: five key stages 2007-2011. The Guardian p.1

Fukuyama, F. (2006). The end of history and the last man. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Guilhot, N. (2011). The invention of international relations theory: Realism, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the 1954 conference on theory. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Naim, M. (1999). Fads and fashion in economic reforms: Washington Consensus or Washington Confusion? Foreign Policy Magazine. Retrieved from

Narlikar, A. (2005). The World Trade Organization: A very short introduction. Oxford: OUP Oxford.

Narlikar, A., Daunton, M., & Stern, R. M. (2012). The Oxford handbook on The World Trade Organization. Oxford: OUP Oxford.

Oberprantacher, A. (2016). Power and justice in international relations: Interdisciplinary approaches to global challenges. Mason: Routledge.

Responsibility to Protect. (2015). International Coalition for Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved from

Sander, B. (2015). The ICC’s crisis mentality and the limits of global justice. Retrieved from

Sanger, D. E. (2016, Feb 10). Russian Intervention in Syrian War Has Sharply Reduced U.S. Options. The New York Times p. 1

Smith, A. (2009). Can Marxism explain the financial crash? Retrieved from

Trent, J. E., & Rahman, M. (2007). Modernizing the United Nations System: Civil society’s role in moving from international relations to global governance. London: Barbara Budrich.

Van de Haar, E. (2009). Classical liberalism and international relations theory: Hume, Smith, Mises, and Hayek. London: Palgrave Macmillan US.